Another milestone has been scheduled as the Israeli government set a date next month, May 23, for the entry of tourists who received the covid vaccination. Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced the decision in a statement on Tuesday.
Tourism will open up in stages as initially, only tourists traveling in organized groups will be allowed to enter the country. This is to facilitate monitoring of the travelers. Regular visitors will be considered as well if the initial stage shows good results. Travelers will be required to undergo a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and serology test to detect Covid-19 before boarding the plane to Israel.
PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies. The serological test proves the presence of antibodies in their blood.
“Israel is the first vaccinated nation, and the citizens of Israel have been the first to enjoy it,” Edelstein said in the statement. “[Now that we have] opened our economy, it is time to facilitate tourism in a considered and careful manner.
“The opening of tourism is an important development for one of the industries that during the pandemic year was hit the hardest,” he added. “We will continue to examine additional reliefs in accordance with the morbidity data.”
“The time has come for Israel to enjoy the advantage of being a safe and healthy country, and for this to help rehabilitate the Israeli economy and the tourism industry and not other economies,” Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-HaCohen opined.
“Only the opening of incoming international tourism will really succeed in bringing back the sector of tourism, restaurants, hospitality, sites, guides, commuters and many more who can finally return to make their living with dignity,” she said. “I will continue to push for a full return of inbound tourism to Israel, which will greatly assist the Israeli economy and provide jobs that are needed so much by many today.”
“Thousands of families were waiting to hear the news”, says Uri Steinberg, former Israel Tourism Commissioner for North America and now a consultant working with the Chrisitan community. “These are families here in Israel that made their living up until 15 months ago from incoming tourism. There’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel”.
“We still need to wait and see what will be the official outline, so that the travel industry will know exactly how to operate,” says Steinberg.
“2021 actually holds a unique opportunity for tourism to Israel and for the perception of Israel, now that most of the world is still being seen as unsafe to travel to. There are hundreds of groups in North America that are ready to finally go to Israel, and it seems that if all goes well, this fall we’ll be hearing more English on the streets of Israel” he added.
Israeli borders have been closed to foreign citizens for a year, with very limited exceptions. Last week, the government permitted entry to foreigners who have a first-degree relative who is a citizen or a permanent resident of Israel on the condition they undergoing a procedure similar to the one required for vaccinated tourists.
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